Saturday School #55

Posted in Feature on December 6, 2003

By Rune Horvik

Send your rules questions to level 4 judge Rune Horvik at He answers approximately 30 questions every week.

Can't find the answer to your question? Maybe he's already answered it! Try the Saturday School Searchable Rules Database.

Mirrodin Questions



Q: If I imprinted a Broodstar on a Soul Foundry and I had at least 8 artifacts in play, would the activation cost for Soul Foundry be 2 or 10?

A: The activation cost is 10. The activation cost always looks at the converted mana cost of the imprinted card, which is calculated from the symbols printed in the top right corner. Affinity or other abilities that increase or reduce the cost to play a card is not considered, they only work when you play the spell, not when you make copies with Soul Foundry.

Q: I've got a question about Wurmskin Forger. Wurmskin Forger says that I can distribute three +1/+1 counters among any number of creatures. My question is if Wurmskin Forger itself can be the target for any of these three counters. Or is this not possible because the counters have to be put on the creatures at the moment Wurmskin Forger comes into play and so it can't be a target for any of these counters because it isn't in play at the moment the counters have to be distributed?

A: You can put counters on the Forger. The ability is a comes-into-play triggered ability (the ability starts with “when”), meaning that it first comes into play, then the ability goes on the stack. You can choose to target any legal creature that is in play, including itself.

Q: If I have a Chalice of the Void set to zero, will all Storm copies be countered?

A: No, they won’t. Chalice of the Void only triggers on spells being played, not on copies being put on the stack by other effects. Also note that the storm spell copies have the same converted mana cost as the spell they copy, so unless the spell cost zero mana, they wouldn’t have been countered anyway.

Q: If I use Nim Devourer's activated ability while it's in the graveyard to bring it back, can I sacrifice it to itself to put a counter on my Lightning Coils? I'm confused as to if it's ability works differently than a comes-into-play ability.

A: You carry out the instructions on the Devourer in order – you first put it into play, then you sacrifice a creature, this can be any creature you control, including the Devourer. It comes into play before you choose what to sacrifice, and since the creature goes back into the graveyard, it triggers Lightning Coils.

Q: If I play Meddling Mage and name Counterspell, does an Isochron Scepter with Counterspell work.

A: It will still work. The Mage’s effect only prevents you from playing cards with the given name, and the copies created by the Scepter are copies of cards, not actual cards. When you play them, you are playing spells, but not playing cards, so this is not affected by Meddling Mage.

Q: Suppose my opponent has an 8/8 Broodstar and I have no artifacts. I entwine Grab the Reins to steal and sacrifice the Broodstar. Now if Broodstar's power is state-based, then my opponent takes 8 damage because state-based effects don’t get checked between the time that I steal and sac it.
Am I right, or does it go with common sense and deal zero damage instead?

A: It deals zero damage. Calculating power and toughness is not state-based, power and toughness is continuously updated, even during the resolution of a spell or ability. State-based effects typically check for player or creature death, and this isn’t checked during resolution, so once you gain control over Broodstar, it will be in play as 0/0 for a short while, then you sacrifice it, and deal its power (zero) in damage to the target.


Krark's Thumb

Q: Since the wording on Krark's Thumb says that every time you flip a coin, you flip two instead, and those two are still coin flips, wouldn’t you really be forced to flip an infinite number of coins (i.e., you flip two coins instead of one coin, but for each of those two you flip two coins, etc.)?

A: Not quite. Krark's Thumb has a replacement effect, and when a coin is supposed to be flipped, the Thumb replaces that event with two flips, and has you choose one of them to keep. A replacement effect can only be applied once to an event (says rule 419.6a in the Comprehensive Rulebook), and doesn’t invoke itself repeatedly. Krark's Thumb’s effect doesn’t affect its own replacement effect.

Q: My friend has artifact lands and Sacred Ground, and I have a Molder Slug in play. During his upkeep, he sacrificed an artifact land to the Molder Slug’s ability and put it back into play because of his Sacred Ground. Can he do that?

A: Yes, he can. Sacred Ground will return any land card that is put in the graveyard by an opponent's spell or ability. Since you control the Slug’s ability, and it's putting a land into the graveyard, that land will return. It doesn’t matter that the Slug refers to sacrificing "an artifact", or that he was able to choose which one he wanted to sacrifice.

Q: I'm curious what would happen if I used Quicksilver Elemental's ability to copy Mischievous Quanar's abilities and then turned it face down? Will it become a 2/2 creature with no abilities permanently or will something else happen?

A: It becomes a 2/2 creature with no abilities like any other creature that is turned face down (as described in rule 502.26e in the Comprehensive Rulebook). Since morph is not an activated ability, that ability is not copied, and the Elemental-Quanar can’t be turned face up by itself, since it doesn’t have morph. It could still be turned face up using Break Open or Ixidor, Reality Sculptor to turn the creature face up.
Note: The face-down Elemental does still have ": Turn this creature face-down", along with any other abilities it may have given itself. Being face-down can only remove a card's built-in abilities, not abilities granted to it by other effects.

Q: What will Duplicant’s creature types be if it imprints a Mistform Ultimus?

A: It will have all creature types. The ability that gives the Ultimus all creature types is a characteristic-setting ability, and always works. The Ultimus is treated as if it had all the creature types written on its type line: "Creature -- Abomination Aboroth Aladdin ... Wurm Yeti Zombie", and Duplicant copies all these.

General/Older Card Questions


Energy Field

Q: If I play Replenish and get an Energy Field from my graveyard, does the Energy Field get sacrificed when the Replenish goes to the graveyard?

A: Yes, it does. Putting the spell card in the graveyard is the very last thing you do when a spell resolves. Since the Energy Field has been put into play during the resolution of spell, it will see that you put the Replenish card in the graveyard, and the ability triggers, forcing you to sacrifice Energy Field.

Q: If I have a Chance Encounter and a Frenetic Efreet, can I trigger its ability a million times, thus making sure I win 10 coin flips?

A: Frenetic Efreet has been given errata to prevent that trick. You can activate the ability a million times, but it now says "If Frenetic Efreet is in play, flip a coin". As the Efreet would either be phased out or in the graveyard after the first ability has resolved, you don’t get to flip when the rest of the abilities resolve.

Q: I attacked my friend with a Hunted Wumpus. He team blocked with an Avatar of Will and Ageless Sentinels. He claims that only my Hunted Wumpus dies and his creatures are fine because he divides the damage safely. I argue that they each take six damage. Who is right?

A: Both of you are incorrect. Unless banding or other effects modify the damage step, combat damage is always assigned by the controller of the attacking creature. If an attacking creature is blocked by more than one creature, the damage can be divided between all the blockers, but the total damage dealt is the power of the attacker, it doesn’t deal its power to all the blockers. In this case, the Wumpus can divide 6 points of damage between the Avatar (which has 6 toughness) and the Sentinels (which has 4 toughness). You can choose to kill either one of the blockers, but not both of them. The blockers will both deal damage equal to their power back to the attacking creature, and this will destroy the Wumpus.


Seeker of Skybreak

Q: In a tournament, wasting time is not allowed, like tapping Seeker of Skybreak to untap itself infinite times, but what happens if I am gaining something from each time? For example, I have no cards left in my library and I won the first game. I have an infinite life gaining combo, can I do it in my upkeep as many times as I like with the excuse that I want life.

A: You’re still not allowed to waste time, even if you’re gaining something from it. The rules allow you to shortcut repeating actions many times. If no player wants to intervene, you can state that you do your combo a given number of times, and it just happens, but then you have to move on. Since your library is empty, you will lose the next time you’re unable to draw a card.

Q: Are cards from boxed sets like Beatdown or Deckmasters legal for tournament play?

A: Yes, they are. Cards in these boxes have the same card backs as regular cards, as well as white or black borders, and they are tournament legal.
Note that these boxes don’t count as expansions, so they aren’t automatically legal in all formats, but if the card exists in a set that’s legal in a format, the box set version can be played as well. For example, the alternate art Lhurgoyf from Deckmasters is legal in Standard since Lhurgoyf exists in 8th Edition, a Standard-legal expansion. Necropotence from the same box is only allowed in Type 1 and Ice Age Block Constructed, and can only be played in those formats.

Q: If I have a Willbender face down, in play and my opponent equips something to a creature, can I turn Willbender face up to change the target of the equip to one of my creatures?

A: No, you can’t. When you change the target of a spell or ability, you can only choose legal targets, and as the equip ability says “move this Equipment onto target creature you control”, only creatures the controller of the equipment controls are legal targets.

Q: Would Ankh of Mishra’s damage apply when used with Parallax Tide?

A: Yes, it would. Ankh of Mishra deals damage for each land coming into play, regardless of how they come into play. It deals damage both for lands played from your hand as well as removed lands returning to play from Parallax Tide’s ability and lands returned to play by Sacred Ground.


Mask of the Mimic

Q: My question is regarding exactly how Mask of the Mimic works. Do you search for a creature with the same name as the one you sacrificed, or do you sacrifice a creature, then search for a copy of a creature card that is still in play? I ask this mainly in regards to what Mask of the Mimic would do if you played it with only one creature in play.

A: The function of Mask of the Mimic, essentially, is to "transform one creature into another". As you play it, you choose one creature (the target), and sacrifice another. When the spell resolves, you fetch a opy of the first creature, and put it into play as a replacement for the second.
(You can target and sacrifice the same creature, if you want; but then the spell's target will be illegal, and it will be countered.)

Q: If a person draws cards during another persons turn, and the addition of those cards causes that person's hand size to be greater than 7, does the player have to discard down to 7 during the discard phase of that player's turn, or do they hold onto their cards until their discard phase?

A: Only the active player, who has the turn, discards down to 7 cards in the end of the turn (in the cleanup step). All other players keep their cards, you don’t have to discard down to 7 in other players’ turns.

Q: Can you deck an opponent with a Scalpelexis? Say the opponent has 4 cards in his library. I attack him with two Scalpelexis, and he doesn't block any of them. One of them removes his remaining four cards. Then the other one's ability activates, but there are no cards to remove. What happens? Would that count as decking an opponent, and he would lose the game, or would the ability not activate?

A: Scalpelexis just removes the cards, it doesn’t make the player draws the cards, which is required for the player to lose. The second Scalpelexis wouldn’t have any visible effect if there aren’t any cards left in the library, but the player stays alive until he is unable to draw a card.


Coalition Flag

Q: Does Shock have to target a creature with protection from red if it's enchanted by Coalition Flag? What if someone uses Intrepid Hero's ability and my creature enchanted by Coalition Flag is a 1/1?

A: The Flagbearer ability only applies when a spell or ability "could target" a Flagbearer. If a creature has protection from red, then it's not something Shock "could target"; and if a creature has less than 4 power, it isn't something Intrepid Hero "could target". In both of these cases, Coalition Flag has no effect.

Q: Since it's banding week, people have been asking banding questions and I've been looking through the banding rules. I've found two that seem to contradict each other. Let's say two creatures attack in a band, one enchanted with Cooperation. The band is blocked and Cooperation is destroyed with Naturalize before damage is assigned. Who distributes the damage? Rule 502.10d implies that the creatures are still banded and the active player distributes the damage. However, rule 502.10h says damage is assigned normally. Which is it?

A: Both the rules are correct. Banding has two functions when attacking - one is that all or none of the members of the band must be blocked, the other is that the attacker gets to divide all the damage. A band is declared when attackers are chosen, and as long as they have banding at that time, the band remains a band until the end of the combat phase. By contrast, the damage division is done when combat damage is being divided, and if there are no creatures with banding at this time (even if they are “a band”), damage is divided as normal.

Q: I have a Necropotence in play along with a Psychatog. If I discard a card to pay for the 'Tog's ability, will it still get the +1+1 bonus?

A: Yes, it will. You discard to pay the cost, and then the “goes to the graveyard” part of the discard is replaced with “removed from the game”. The cost is still considered paid, even if the discarded card doesn’t end up in the graveyard.


Welding Jar

Q: If I use a Welding Jar in response to an Akroma’s Vengence to save a Frogmite, will it die anyway? I’ve heard that due to the wording it destroys artifact creatures twice.

A: You only have to regenerate your Frogmite once. The wording on Akroma’s Vengeance means that all the permanents are destroyed at the same time, and it’s enough to regenerate it once. It would have been different if it said “Destroy all artifacts, then destroy all creatures”, where it would be destroyed at two different times during the resolution.

Q: My friend wants to play Flickering Ward on my White Knight, which is enchanted by Holy Strength. He gives my Knight protection from white to remove the Holy Strength.
Then he wants to play the abilitiy of Flickering Ward to take it back to it´s owner´s hand.
Can he play the ability although Flickering Ward is enchanting a creature on my side?

A: Yes, he can. The ability is on the enchantment, so the controller of the enchantment can activate it, your friend can return it to his hand. Abilities of permanents can only be activated by the controller of the permanent unless they say otherwise. Some local enchantments give abilities to the permanent they enchant, but these will also say so.

Q: I have a question about the new wording on Relentless Assault “Untap all creatures that attacked this turn. After this main phase, there is an additional combat phase followed by an additional main phase.”
If you play it at the end of your turn (with Spellweaver Helix), what would happen? You wouldn't get any extra phase as you are not in a main phase, right?

A: Correct. If it resolves in a phase that isn’t a main phase, you don’t get an additional combat and main phase.

Thanks to Laurie Cheers for feedback and proofreading.

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